By Emma Amaize
AT the close of the visit to Idumuje-Ugboko, the land of great seven kings, seven streams and seven tombs in Aniocha North Local Government Area, Delta State, lately, holidaymakers, Nollywood personalities and journalists, who saw the other side of the monarchy were left pondering why the fantasy land has been in the news for off beam reason.
To them, there are unique commodious attractions that bond the natives, predominantly skilled farmers, weavers, hunters and blacksmiths and also make them special in the eyes of the world.
Veteran actress, Mrs. Patience Ozokwor and another experienced thespian, Asaba-born Sam Obiago led the Nollywood clan, which included Mrs. Rita Daniels, mother of one more skilled performer, Mrs. Regina Nwoko, who is wife of billionaire politician and lawyer, Prince Ned Nwoko, the man that has tremendously assisted in bringing into prominence the countless day tripper fascinations that trigger Idumuje-Ugboko, and opening designated sightseer spots from his legendary Mount of Delta.
Of course, this reporter, former chairman, Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, Delta State chapter and a close buddy of Ned, Mr. Norbert Chiazor, veteran journalist, Mr. Austin Ogwuda and others were on the impromptu expedition from the pen community.
Land that roars smoke without fire
Prince Ned did not only play host, he was the guide and historian which he took joy in performing. Briefing the joint team of journalists and thespians before the tour, Ned did not hide his love for his homeland as he time after time mouthed: “I am proud of my roots, Idumuje-Ugboko is the best place to come from in the world, God did not make a mistake in making this place my land of birth.”
He explained that the community, about 20-minute drive from Asaba, the state capital, and an hour from Benin City, capital of Edo State, is positioned on the highest point in Delta State, 1000 feet about sea level, making fog to envelop the entire village from dusk to dawn all year round, the people refer to the town as Ani ano anwulu mana okwu alina meaning The forest that bellows smoke without fire.
Nature replicated Eden in Ugboko
Nwoko noted that in the Holy Book: “God in the beginning created heaven and earth… and planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there he put the man whom he had formed from the dust of the ground. And out of the ground made the Lord to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food.”
He says: “A perceptive study of this wonderful and beautiful first habitation of man in Eden is not too far from what nature has preserved for mankind in Idumuje-Ugboko, also known as Mount of Delta. This very unique place is the home of an ancient kingdom made up of a wonderful people with seven kings, seven tombs and seven streams.”
“The weather is amazing, comparable only to those of Obudu Cattle Ranch in Cross River State and Mambilla Plateau in Taraba State. It is so perfect that tropical and non-tropical plants flourish. Early morning and late night dews constitute an all-year phenomenon which keeps the vegetation perpetually green,” he explained.
From tunnel to tower
A sightsee of Idumuje-Ugboko can be an all-day affair with the many sights, but because of time, our host knew he had to hurry and so, we moved to the underground tunnels, an Egyptian pyramid-like structure on the surface, with a labyrinth of passageways that terminate underneath. The underground tunnels provide relaxation, entertainment and fun facilities for the tourist.
The wonders continue as we marched to the strong hold. At a glance, a visitor might think the tower in is a kind of security post, but it is not. The 100-foot fortification with 1,100 feet pinnacle, a major magnetism in Mount of Delta is actually residential, consisting of five floors of studio flats deliberately finished as part of the castle structure for tourists.
At the sit-out in the sky with a well-stocked bar and music lounge, Ned pointed at a bearing miles and miles in the distance, informing the amazed visitors: “That is Ubiaja in Edo state, look at Issele-Uku and Umunede in Delta state.”
His words: “From the last floor at the tower in Idumuje Ugboko, you can see as far as 35 miles because this is the highest building in Delta state.”
It’s wonder of Delta, Ex-Moroccan ambassador
Former Ambassador of Morocco to Nigeria, Ambassador Mustapha Cherkaoui, who visited Idumuje-Ugboko with 15 other ambassadors and diplomats” in 2005, said:
“Nothing prepares one for the sites in Idumuje-Ugboko. Situated on the plateau in Delta state, its relatively temperate weather and lush vegetation liken it to the biblical Garden of Eden … Upon reaching this ancient and historical town, one is heralded into an exotic land with a rich cultural heritage. “
“There is this sign declares – Welcome to Idumuje-Ugboko, the moment one descends into the valley at the outskirts. As one drives along one is titillated by the rich vegetation and between the months of October and January, the fog which settles on the land from dusk to dawn.
“Driving past the modern police post, a nondescript sign points out Mount Ned Nwoko. From this point one can see the minaret which is erected on the highest point in the entire state. A turn into the short track on the left which leads to this Villa might not hold any promises of surprises and entertainment.
“But to ignore investigating this Villa, one would have cheated oneself of what can best be described as the Wonder of Delta,” he added.